On Oct. 5-7, Kingswood will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a weekend of special events remembering its founder, Rev. Wachtel, and the more than 7,000 children whose lives have been touched by his vision.
The history of Kingswood
The original children's home opened during the height of the Great Depression, first at a campground near Washington D.C. in 1930, and then on a small rented farm near Hamilton, Virginia.
From there the cash-strapped children's home moved throughout the 1930s to Greensboro, North Carolina, Manassas, Virginia, to a 500-acre location in Springfield, Virginia in 1937.
Rev. Wachtel happened to be passing through Knoxville in 1943 when a banker took him to see the 1,300-acre former Tate Springs Hotel property in Bean Station.
A short time later, the property in Springfield was sold, and on Oct. 8, 1943, the Bean Station property was purchased. Kingswood has been there ever since.
75th Anniversary Celebration and Homecoming
Kingswood is hosting its 75th Anniversary Community Celebration and Homecoming on Oct. 5-7.
The old abandoned resort hotel and property have been home to more than 7,000 children over the past 75 years and have been a cornerstone of refuge in the East Tennessee community.
Special Events for Homecoming weekend include:
• Friday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m.: The Alumni Ice Cream Social and Family Night.
• Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: The public is invited to take campus tours throughout the day, enjoy live music, meet the current and former students. Food vendors will be available.
A community ceremony will take place Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. with a special guest speaker, live music, testimony, and giving thanks to the community. The alumni dinner is at 6 p.m. and requires an RSVP.
• Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10:30 a.m.: The public is encouraged to attend church service at the A.E. Wachtel Memorial Chapel with special music, testimony, and teaching.
What is Kingswood?
The mission of Kingswood Home for Children is "Bringing Healing to Hurting Children and Families in HIS name."
Kingswood is a private, residential home for ages 5-18 providing a safe, Christian home for children.
Children who have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or displaced come to Kingswood and find shelter and safety and can begin putting back the pieces of their broken world.
The kids at Kingswood live in cottages, designed with family in mind, with no more than 8 children per houseparent.
Each cottage is modern and spacious with a common kitchen, dining room and living room areas. The children share bedrooms with either two or three children living in each bedroom.
Who was Rev. A.E. Wachtel?
The history of Kingswood School is, to a large extent, the history of the Wachtel family.
Rev. A. E. Wachtel (1887-1964), was born in Mound City, Missouri, and he was a minister and evangelist who graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan Seminary in Lincoln with a master’s degree.
He met his wife Ina (1890-1980), a school teacher, at a newly formed church in Nebraska, where he came to preach, and they were married in 1910. Working together, Kingswood School was established by Rev. and Mrs. Wachtel, and grew despite the difficult times in which it was founded.
A word from Executive Director Gene Whaley
“We owe it to A.E. Wachtel and his son, John Wachtel, as well as their family and all of the remaining Kingswood family to celebrate the legacy and the work that they have done. Seventy-five years ago our country was coming out of the Great Depression and we were deep into World War II. A.E. Wachtel saw a great need at that time in the Bean Station area to follow biblical commands and take care of orphans and widows. There were times when nearly 200 children lived at Kingswood with over 300 on a waiting list to come."
"Today, Kingswood continues to minister to families across East Tennessee dealing with crisis in their family. We just want to continue the work that the Wachtel family started, because families today are in great need. The needs look different, being several generations removed from the 1940s, but can be just as destructive to families and our future."
For more information, visit the Kingswood Home for Children website at www.kingswoodkids.org or its Facebook page.
Alumni attending the event are asked to RSVP on the website so Kingswood can prepare for your visit. Call (865) 767-2121 for more information.